Referee and Assistant Referee Communication
“Ready to start” before each kick-off:
The referee assumes position for the kick-off and establishes eye contact with each assistant referee. Assist referees unfurl their flags, holding them straight down in the hand closest to the referee.
Ball still in play:
Assistant referee moves with play offering no signal or offers an agreed upon signal such as a slight motion with the free hand in the direction of play.
Infraction seen by assistant referee:
Raise the flag vertically and wave slightly. After the referee stops play, signal the direction of the restart with the flag at 45 degrees above horizontal.
Infraction seen by assistant referee, but referee does not see flag:
Raise the flag vertically and wave slightly. If the referee does not see the trail assistant referee’s signal, the lead assistant referee replicates the signal. After the referee stops play, the lead assistant referee points with the free hand at the trail assistant referee. This communication should be used for serious breaches of the Laws such as misconduct, which is important for the referee to handle immediately.
Infraction inside the penalty area, indicated by the referee:
IFK: The referee indicates the direction and position of the kick, and then indicates the indirect free kick.
PK: Referee stops the game, points clearly to the penalty mark, and moves into position to supervise the taking of the kick.
PK: If the referee needs help deciding whether the foul was inside the penalty area, the referee stops the game and looks to the assistant referee for information while moving to the spot of the foul. The assistant referee moves the flag from a position alongside the leg to a position in front of the body, centered and pointing downward.
Infraction inside the penalty area, indicated by assistant referee:
PK: Indicate an infringement with the flag straight up and a slight wave. When the referee stops the game, the assistant referee establishes eye contact with the referee, walks to the corner flag post, and stands in front of the flag.
If the referee does not stop play, the assistant referee must decide whether the flag signal has not been seen or has been seen and dismissed. If the assistant referee decides the referee does not wish to stop play for a penalty kick, the assistant referee should lower the flag and resume appropriate positioning. If the assistant referee decides the referee has not seen the signal that an infringement has occurred, she should hold the flag up for a brief time, such as 3 seconds, long enough to afford the referee an opportunity to see and respond to the signal. If play continues and the referee does not acknowledge the flag, the assistant referee should lower the flag and resume normal positioning.
Direct Free Kick signaled by the Assistant Referee:
Raise the flag vertically and wave slightly. After the referee stops play, signal the direction of the restart with the flag at 45 degrees above horizontal. If the referee does not acknowledge the signal, the assistant referee should hold the signal 3-5 seconds, then lower the flag and resume normal positioning.
Indirect Free Kick signaled by the Assistant Referee:
Raise the flag vertically and wave slightly. After the referee whistles, signal the direction of the restart with the flag at 45 degrees above horizontal.
If the indirect free kick is to be taken by the attacking team near the opponent’s penalty area and the ball might be kicked directly into the goal, the referee may ask for assistance. A prearranged signal such as raised eyebrows, or a request, “Assistant referee?” communicates the need for assistance. The response, “Indirect,” or prearranged gesture such as holding the free hand in front of the shoulder in a mini-indirect free kick signal, may aid communication.
Establish eye contact between the referee and assistant referee. “No flag signal” is the recommended communication from the assistant referee. An agreed upon signal, such as a slight motion with the free hand in the direction of play, is acceptable to indicate play should continue.
No offside (assistant referee is indicating to referee):
Assistant referee moves with play offering no signal, or offers an agreed upon signal such as a slight motion with the free hand in the direction of play.
No offside (referee decides not to penalize and overcalls assistant referee):Wave down assistant referee’s flag signal for offside with an agreed upon signal such as lowering the outstretched arms or showing a subtle “thumbs up.”
No score; ball failed to enter the goal
Eye contact between the referee and assistant referee, assistant referee offers no flag signal, or offers an agreed upon signal such as a slight motion with the free hand in the direction of play.
No score; ball entered goal and the player scoring the goal was offside:
Eye contact, the assistant referee indicates with an offside signal.
No score; an attacker fouled or an attacker other than the scorer was in an offside position and was involved in the active play by interfering or gaining an advantage:
The assistant referee stands in place at attention, no flag signal. Use this communication whether the players move to positions for a kick- off or the referee stops play. The referee considers information from the assistant referee and signals the appropriate restart.
Show the appropriate number of fingers held against the shorts, pointing down. This signal is often difficult to see. The fingers may need to be shown against the shirt, slightly above waist level.
Use a prearranged signal such as a closed fist on the shorts or the fist covering the referee badge.
“I don’t know”:
Eye contact; use a prearranged signal, which may be as simple as no flag direction. Example: The referee knows the ball went out of play of the touchline but could not determine which team last touched the ball. The referee’s look toward the assistant referee is the prearranged request for information. The assistant referee did not see who touched the ball last and communicates this by not giving a direction for the throw-in. (A blank stare suffices.) If the assistant referee needs to inform the referee that the ball went out of play over the touchline but the referee is better placed to know who takes the throw-in, the assistant referee raises the flag vertically to indicate the ball went out of play. When the referee acknowledges the signal, the assistant referee lowers the flag without indicating direction.